HistoryFrom: Ervin Shaw, "Kicked out of the church, they formed an army" webpage, posted 5 Sept. 2000, reposted 24 August 2002, latest addition/update 22 June 2003; in "Christian Testimonies" section of "The Truth . . . What Is It?" website (http://poptop.hypermart.net/testsalva.html; viewed 7 November 2005):
In 1865, William Booth, an ordained Methodist minister, aided by his wife Catherine, formed an evangelical group dedicated to preaching among the "unchurched" people living in the midst of appalling poverty in London's East End. Booth's ministry recognized the interdependence of material, emotional and spiritual needs. In addition to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, Booth became involved in the feeding and shelter of the hungry and homeless and in rehabilitation of alcoholics.
Booth and his followers, originally known as The Christian Mission, became The Salvation Army in 1878, when that organization evolved on a quasi-military pattern. Booth became "the General" and officers' ranks were given to his ministers.
The Salvation Amy has functioned successfully within that unusual structure for more than a century. As of 2005, its outreach has been expanded to include more than 100 countries, and the Gospel is preached by its officers in more than 160 languages.
In the mid 1800's in England, in the midst of the new industrial revolution, the poor were down and out and having some of the worst of times. Yet the church was honoring God with grandeur and liturgical finery. This left Satan plenty of room to spoil things. William and Catherine pressed their church to open their eyes to the surrounding poverty. When the pressure became too great, the Booth's were expelled from the church and went on to found the Salvation Army, a Christian church denomination known especially for ministry to the poor, downtrodden, and castaways.
William Booth was born in 1829 in Nottingham England. At 13 he was sent to work as an apprentice in a pawnbroker's shop to help support his mother and sisters. Through that job, he became aware of poverty and the associated humiliation and degradation. During those teen years, he became a Christian and spent much of his spare time trying to persuade other people to become Christians, too.
He subsequently moved to London where he joined the local Methodist Church and became a minister. He married Catherine Mumford, a girl his same age, in 1855 (she died in 1890); and he spent several years as a Methodist minister...but he resigned.
He found himself street preaching to crowds in London's poor and wretched East End where he soon formed a new movement, "The Christian Mission". The effort sustained itself, but results were discouraging. In 1878, he changed the name of the movement to "The Salvation Army"; and the rest of the story of worldwide growth and outreach to hurting humanity is history. He died in 1912.